Thanksgiving Fun for Kids
The onset of the holidays is a wonderful opportunity to take time out from the ordinary and celebrate with these fun Thanksgiving craft and cooking projects for children.
Gingerbread Turkey Cookies
This creative twist on the traditional gingerbread man uses your child’s handprint as a template for gingerbread “turkeys.” The following recipe is an old family favorite.
1/2 cup creamed shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark molasses
1 medium egg
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Mix together the shortening, sugar, and molasses. Next, add the egg and beat completely. Combine all dry ingredients and add to the creamed ingredients in 1/2-cup increments (be sure to beat well after each addition). Refrigerate the dough until it feels cool to the touch.
Roll out refrigerated dough onto a piece of waxed paper or cooking parchment, until about 1/4-inch thick. Trace your child’s hand on a square of tag board, and then have your child help cut out the outline. Use this as a template for cutting turkey shapes from the uncooked gingerbread. (Use a butter knife to cut around your template, then scoop away the excess dough and reroll the leftovers after each cutout session.) Carefully transfer the turkeys with a spatula onto a greased cookie sheet (you can also turn out the turkeys onto another piece of waxed paper sprayed with olive oil or nonstick cooking spray, and then transfer them to the cookie sheet, gently sliding them from the paper to the sheet). Place in a 350 F oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. (Makes about 3 dozen.)
Icing for Gingerbread Turkeys
For extra fun, decorate your gingerbread turkeys with brightly colored “feathers.” After preparing the recipe below, separate the frosting into several bowls and add food coloring to each. Spread onto the “fingers” of your turkey for extra color.
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoons soft butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
Mix the powdered sugar with the vanilla, butter, and milk (help your child vigorously whip with a fork or whisk). Then add more milk, just a little bit at a time, until the mixture reaches the desired consistency. Once you’ve frosted your turkeys, it’s best to let them stand one to two hours for the frosting to set.
You can also mix chocolate icing for your turkey’s body by adding two tablespoons cocoa powder when you mix the powdered sugar and then follow the recipe, just as above.
Toddlers and preschoolers will love this fun activity. All you need is a carton of whipping cream and a clean baby food jar. Fill the baby food jar halfway with whipping cream; tightly screw the lid back on. Take turns shaking the jar with your child. You’ll need to continue shaking for about five minutes. The cream begins to change consistency, becoming whipped (just like whipped topping). Keep shaking the cream for another minute or so and you’ll notice yellow lumps of butter beginning to form. Empty the contents of the jar into a fine sieve or cheese cloth to squeeze out the excess liquid whey. Spread a little of your freshly made butter on crackers or homemade bread. Add salt, if desired, and refrigerate.
This is an especially fun and delicious activity for toddlers and a great way to decorate your home or holiday dinner table.
1 red apple
1 large marshmallow
1 bag of colored gumdrops
1 small box of raisins
Insert two toothpicks into the bottom of the apple to form legs. Insert another toothpick on the top (to one side) of the apple, and push a large marshmallow onto the toothpick to form the head. On four more toothpicks, push colored gumdrops. Insert these toothpicks into the back of the apple in a fanned-out pattern, creating the turkey’s tail feathers. To complete the turkey’s face, you can add raisins for eyes and a red gumdrop sliver for the beak—just push them into the marshmallow until they stick. If you have trouble making the face, try this trick: Heat a butter knife over a candle and depress the tip into the marshmallow, melting it just slightly. This will help “glue” the eyes and beak on your turkey’s face.
These creative place cards provide a unique way for your child to help seat loved ones at the dinner table. You’ll need the following items:
Waffle or cone-shaped sugar cones
Decorator frosting tube (with writing tip)
Dried fruit (such as cranberries, raisins, apricots, pineapple, banana chips)
Nuts (only for older children and adult guests)
Squares of wax or colored paper, or napkins
Frosting (see previous recipe, or buy premade frosting)
Help older children write the names of your guests onto each cone using the decorator frosting. Younger children can instead use crayons or markers to decorate the squares of wax or colored paper, or napkins. Place one cone on each square. Fill the cones with the dried fruits, nuts, and chocolates, letting the contents spill out onto the squares.
Felt Leaf Placemats and Napkin Rings
Empty paper towel and/or toilet paper rolls
Assorted colored felt squares
Crayons or markers
Help your child cut the paper cylinders into 2- to 3-inch wide rings. Color the rings in bold fall colors with crayons or markers and design napkin rings for each of your dinner guests. Older children can cut felt strips and leaves to glue onto the napkin rings for more permanent table settings that you can use again and again. With a pencil, lightly sketch the outline of large leaves onto patches of the felt, but be sure to save one uncut squares per guest. Help your child cut out the leaves, then arrange and glue them onto the larger uncut felt squares to construct placemats.
Tree of Thanks
Thanksgiving is a beloved time of year. Many families use this time to remind themselves, and others, of life’s numerous blessings. This is a great way for the entire family to come together and give thanks. Here’s what you’ll need:
Yarn or ribbon
Colored paper cut into 3×5 inch squares (or any size big enough to write on)
Markers, crayons, or pens
A small potted tree or houseplant with plentiful branches (ficus work well and are already commonplace in many homes)
Have each family member write down what he or she is most thankful for. It can be anything from Mom and Dad to the family pet, a new toy, or a visiting relative. Punch a hole in the corner of each paper square and thread a piece of yarn or ribbon through the hole. Have a ceremony to decorate your Tree of Thanks.
Decorate your table with these elegant and easy geese. Although it’s a simple project, we recommend that an adult be present to work with the knife and awl.
Crookneck squash (look for squash with part of the stem still intact—this will form the beak)
Waxed paper and cardboard (to form the base)
Glue or tape
To put together a nice gaggle of geese, be sure to use several different-sized squash. Help your child wash the squash and dry them with a paper towel. Then cut off the stems at an angle to create goose beaks. Use an awl to cut small holes in each goose’s “face.” Form the eyes by inserting a whole clove into each hole. Using a knife, slice off the large rounded end of the squash—you’ll need to do this to ensure that your goose can stand up without tipping over. Cover a piece of cardboard with waxed paper and glue or tape the two together. Place your geese on the base and scatter fall leaves around them to cover the cardboard. (Be sure to keep your geese on their base to protect your table.)
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